BLOG: 5 things to look for when buying a house

Buying a property can sometimes be an instinctive process – often you know in a very short space of time whether or not you want to live in a place. A recent study by found that the average decision to buy a property is made in only 38 minutes! When you look at it this way, it becomes obvious that such a short amount of makes it impossible to take everything in, let alone allowing enough time to assess a property’s state of repair and condition.

If you can, arrange to visit the property you are buying again before committing to an exchange of contracts. And whilst you’re there, take a look for the following…


Undertaking works on a property’s roof can often amount to a significant sum, so it is worth checking whether the roof at the property you’re buying is in a good state of repair. Stand back from the property as far as you can and take a look up. Check whether the property’s ridgeline is horizontal – if it isn’t, sagging may have occurred. This happens when heavy concrete roof tiles have been applied to the roof’s original timbers without having been reinforced, and this will likely need attention in due course.

Other things to look out for include missing slates, leaking/blocked gutters and leaning chimneys.

Don’t forget to look up when you’re inside the property – evidence of a roof in disrepair can be seen in damp patches or signs of leaks. If you get access to look in the property’s attic in the attic, check for insulation between the ceiling joists.


Take a little time to pay attention to the walls – both internally and externally. Whilst small cracks – especially in older properties – are usually of little concern, anything that looks larger may need further investigation. Large cracks may have been caused by subsidence and can present a serious issue if not addressed.

Also check the alignment of the walls – any bowing or bulging of external walls can be indicative of structural problems.

You should also inspect the pointing between the bricks. Poor pointing or that which has worn away over time will allow water to seep into the walls over time.


Usually occurring at lower levels, damp can also typically be found under windows or in external corners. Other sign of damp include black mould spots and peeling wallpaper.  Don’t forget to use your sense of smell – damp patches can easily be hidden by furniture but it is much harder to disguise a musty, ‘damp’ scent. Damp can be caused by numerous factors – such as condensation, lack of damp proof course and rain penetration –and if damp is present, further investigation is certainly recommended.


Repairing or replacing windows another area that can result in significant outlay. Check if the widows are double glazed and if they are, that there is no evidence of condensation or water – which can mean that the units have ‘failed’. If the widows are wooden, check that the wood isn’t soft and look for signs of poor maintenance – such as deteriorated paint.  If possible, also check that the windows in the property open and close properly.

Gas and electrics

Take a look at the property’s electric fuse box and heating boiler and try to ascertain how old they are. Old electrical sockets and light switches can indicated that an electrical system is aged. This is also the case with old style central heating radiators.  As a general rule of thumb, if a boiler is older than 8 years, it is likely that greater efficiency and power could be obtained from a newer model.

Even with the benefit of a second viewing, it is unlikely that you’ll be able to spot every potential issue. Furthermore, without specific knowledge and experience, you may well miss something. That is why we would always recommend having a survey completed by a Chartered Surveyor. Buying a property is one of the single most expensive purchases you will ever make in your life – it’s not worth taking the risk!

For more information on the building survey reports we offer or to arrange a competitively prices quote, please get in touch.